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Womens Rights Movement Essay, Research Paper

1995 marks the 75th anniversary of the passage of the 19th

amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

A resolution calling for woman suffrage was passed, after much debate,

at The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. The Convention was convened by

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott who demanded a wide range of

changes. These changes were spelled out in The Declaration of

Sentiments a document based upon the Declaration of Independence.

“What are we next to do?” asked Elizabeth Cady Stanton after

the 1848 convention. The women of Seneca Falls had challenged

America to social revolution with a list of demands that

touched every aspect of life. Testing different approaches, the

early women’s rights leaders came to view the ballot as the best way to

change the system, but they did not limit their efforts to one issue.

Fifty years after the convention, women could claim progress in

property rights, divorce and child custody laws, employment and

educational opportunities, and increased social freedoms. By the early

20th century, a coalition of suffragists, temperance groups,

reform-minded politicians, and women’s social welfare organizations

mustered a successful push for the vote.

Susan B. Anthony taught school in New Rochelle and Canajoharie,

NY, and discovered that male teachers were paid several times

her salary. She devoted her first reform efforts to antislavery

and to temperance, the Campaign to surpress alcohol. But when

she rose to speak in temperance convention, she was told, “The

sisters were not invited here to speak!” Anthony promptly

enlisted in the cause of women’s rights.

In a lifelong partnership with Elizabeth Cady Stanton,

Anthony’s organizational skill and selfless dedication built

the women’s rights movement. The ballot, she became

increasingly to believe, was the necessary foundation for all

other advances. When she and Stanton published a newspaper,

they called it The Revolution. Its motto was “Men their rights

and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less.” In

order to press a test case of her belief that women, as

citizens, could not be denied the ballot, Anthony voted. She

was tried, convicted and fined for voting illegally.

For over thirty years she traveled the country almost

ceaselessly working for women’s rights. In 1906, her health

failing, Anthony addressed her last women’s suffrage

convention. Although she sensed that the cause would not be won

in her lifetime, she looked out across the assembled women and

told them, “Failure is impossible.”

Although Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

devoted 50 years to the woman’s suffrage movement,

neither lived to see women gain the right to vote. But

their work and that of many other suffragists

contributed to the ultimate passage of the 19th

amendment in 1920.

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